Evalynn’s Story

Posted on 2016-10-31

Evalynn was 10-months-old when her mother, Vanessa, noticed something was “off” with her eye. When Evalynn was sleepy or focusing on something in the distance, Vanessa noticed that Evalynn’s eye would drift off slightly. This “lazy eye” was so subtle, Vanessa seemed to be the only one who noticed. When questioned, other family members assured Vanessa that it was normal for young children to have a difficult time focusing on objects. Despite this reassurance, Vanessa could not ignore her mother’s intuition. At Evalynn’s next pediatric appointment, Vanessa voiced her concerns with the doctor. The doctor noticed her concerns, but he believed it to be muscular and sent her to an ophthalmologist for a more thorough exam. The ophthalmologist looked behind Evalynn’s eye and was shocked to discover that her retina was completely detached, and there was a mass behind her eye. Concerned that Evalynn might have Retinoblastoma, the doctor sent the family by emergency referral to Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan Hospital. Evalynn was examined under anesthesia, which confirmed that she did have Retinoblastoma. The mass was a code D tumor, two centimeters long. The doctors at Kellogg started Evalynn on a regimen of intra-arterial chemotherapy. Evalynn’s tumor shrunk to 8 millimeters after the first round of treatment! She is also being treated with laser and cryotherapy. Vanessa takes Evalynn to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital every month for evaluation and treatment. Through it all, Evalynn has done very well. She is a 15-months-old active, happy little girl. Vanessa did not know about “the Glow” until after Evalynn was diagnosed, although she can now see a glow in Evalynn’s photos as far back as when she was 5 months old. Vanessa wishes she had known what to look for. She is not only determined to support her daughter in recovery but to spread awareness of “the Glow.” Vanessa hopes that by sharing her story, she may help other families discover “the Glow” in their children’s photos and lead them to a diagnosis as soon as possible.